Jerry Lewis is a revered figure in Hollywood, but his private life was considerably more complicated than his outwardly happy demeanor may suggest. Lewis’ conduct caused him to be divorced from the woman he wed in 1945 and forced his son to face challenging choices.
Lewis acknowledged his wife Patti Lewis in “The Total Film-maker,” a book he wrote in 1971. He said that while he was growing up, she loved him and was patient with him. But soon after, their relationship broke down.
Before Patti made the decision to dissolve their marriage after 35 years together, the pair was wed. The couple had welcomed six children together first, though, before that. Their union was not what it first appeared to be.
Lewis once admitted that he suffered from persistent back pain that would have rendered any other person immobile, but he continued to perform despite it. He suffered from back discomfort ever since he hurt his spine.
The comedian revealed that in order to manage his illness, he turned to medicines and the advice of medical experts. He even required permanent implantation of a pain stimulator, which disables a nerve’s capacity to perceive pain.
Even though he was fighting back pain, it was nothing compared to the pain he experienced after losing his kid. Joseph, Lewis’ youngest son, used drugs and committed suicide at age 45.
Lewis claimed that despite doing everything for his kid, Joseph made his own decisions and would never be able to move on from his passing. Then he admitted, “I’ve worked in the most agonizing situations any man has ever experienced, yet the suffering goes gone when I walk out on that stage.”
Lewis’ wife filed for a legal separation from him after 35 years of marriage because she could no longer stand their union. Additionally, she asked for $450,000 a year to support herself and the couple’s 16-year-old youngest son, Joseph.
Although the pair had been together for a while, friends of the couple were not surprised by the breakup. Patti explained what occurred as follows:
“Jerry Lewis has shown a clear disrespect for our marriage, and with no money of my own, I am a ‘financial puppet’ at his office’s mercy.”
Patti claimed that she had no money for herself since Lewis insisted on buying pricey presents for other ladies he was entertaining with their money. According to sources close to the marriage, Patti had lost her cool.
After their divorce, Lewis refused to give Patti the money she need, so their son Anthony had to step in. Anthony remembered having to make a challenging choice with his mother’s financial situation.
By that time, Lewis had remarried and was leading a lavish lifestyle with his new wife and adoptive children while Patti had nothing. In Anthony’s memory,
“Should I sue my father or let my mum live on the street?”
Anthony also disclosed that suing his father on his mother’s behalf resulted in his exclusion from his father’s will, but it was a risk he was prepared to take to make sure his mother was okay.
While the actor’s connection with Anthony and Lewis was strained, it wasn’t the only one in his immediate family. Only two of his sons showed up for his funeral; the other three were not there. When Lewis breathed his last, Joseph had already died.
Danielle, Lewis’ adopted child from his second marriage, reported that her father was constantly upbeat, joyful, and ready to crack jokes. According to Danielle, Lewis looked to be the ideal father figure for her. His sons, on the other hand, had a quite different experience.
His will didn’t mention any of the five surviving oldest of his children. Later it was discovered that Lewis had purposefully left his sons nothing. Patti, his first wife, also didn’t get anything. Only Danielle, SanDee Pitnick, and his second wife shared an inheritance.
Despite the fact that Joseph had died in 2009, he was nonetheless mentioned in the bequest. However, when his father passed away, he had not spoken to him in 20 years and his father had not even provided for his funeral.
Since Joseph and his father did not get along and Joseph could not endure to live with his father, the two had not spoken for years. Lewis begged his other sons not to talk to the media about Joseph when his son passed away.
Lewis was concerned that the public would learn about his son’s drug addiction and that he frequently visited soup kitchens and homeless shelters in order to survive. Lewis tried to keep the information from being made public, but eventually it was.
Patti, who had spent years fighting Lewis for the safety of herself and her children, died in 2021 at the age of 99. In a nursing facility, Patti softly died away from natural causes.
One of Lewis and Patti’s kids, Gary Lewis, gave a description of his mother. Gary emphasized how great a spirit his mother had. He added that she never got sick and would hum as she moved through the nursing facility.
He also revealed to the media that due of his mother’s love of singing, their home was constantly alive with music and happiness. Gary said that it was in this place that he discovered his own passion of music, which helped him grow into the accomplished performer he is today.
In contrast to how his father has been represented, Gary gave a dazzling account of his mother and came at the following conclusion:
She led a long life for 99 years and is now singing with the angels in heaven.
Anthony Lewis has stated that he wished he had one more chance to tell his father that he loved and cared for him despite everything they had been through together, despite the unfair treatment Anthony received from his father.